Endive is an edible leafy green vegetable that has been around since ancient times. It is also known as chicory, Belgian endive, escarole, witloof, and curly endive. Endive is a member of the brassica family along with broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, radishes, turnips, and Brussels sprouts.
Endive is a versatile vegetable that can be used in salads, soups, sandwiches, and even as a side dish. It is often paired with other vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms.
You’ve probably seen those endive racks at the grocery store, but some of us have never tasted them. Endives are nutrient-dense leafy greens that are utilized in a variety of dishes all over the world.
In fact, if you want to liven up your meals, endives may be a fantastic addition, as they are flexible enough to provide flavor to everything from appetizers to salads. Let’s have a look at how endives taste and what you can do with them.
The first thing I noticed about endive was its slightly bitter flavor. This bitterness comes from the presence of oxalic acid which gives it a tangy taste. The leaves themselves contain no fat or oil so there isn’t much else going on here. They’re just full of nutrients and fiber.
I found that when cooked, the endives were quite bland. However, this didn’t stop me from enjoying their crunchiness and freshness. When eaten raw, endives had a slight peppery note to them.
Endives have an earthy flavor with a touch of sweetness and bitterness. They have a lot of moisture in them since they’re leafy greens, which gives them a fresh, clean flavor that balances off the bitterness.
Endive, as a part of the chicory family, has a flavor that is similar to chicory and coffee beans. Although endives might be a bit of an acquired taste, they can be used to enhance sweet or acidic flavors. They give it a distinct bitter green flavor. Cooking endive changes its flavor dramatically while softening and mellowing it at the same time. However, if the vegetable is harvested too late, it can become woody and bitter.
The flavor of the young delicate leaves is usually more intense. The elder ones, on the other hand, have a cardboard-like feel and an unappealingly thick bitterness. Even if the endive is past its prime and on the verge of decaying, it may be saved by cooking. Even sprinkling salt on the interior leaves and washing with cold water might help. If there are any older, decaying leaves, make sure to get rid of them.
Cooking endive makes it tender and more palatable. You’ll find that cooking endives brings out their natural sugars and intensifies their flavor. If you don’t plan on eating endive right away, then you can blanch it for 2 minutes before serving. Blanching will help keep the color bright and prevent any discoloration.
If you’d rather not use water, try using stock instead. For example, the chicken broth would work well. Just add 1/2 cup of stock per pound of endive. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the liquid reduces down significantly. Remove lid and let cool completely. Strain through cheesecloth into another container. Use immediately or refrigerate overnight.
If you prefer to steam your endive, place it in a steamer basket set inside a pot filled halfway with boiling water. Cover and allow to steam over medium-high heat for 5 – 10 minutes depending on thickness. Check periodically to ensure that the vegetables remain covered throughout the process. Once done, remove from heat and serve hot or chilled.
You can also sauté endive briefly in butter or olive oil. Add some chopped garlic and thyme along with a pinch of sugar. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Yes! Raw endive tastes like celery but without all the stalks. This means that you could enjoy it as a salad ingredient. Simply chop up the endive and toss it with lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss together gently so that the endive doesn’t lose its crisp texture. Serve immediately.
Even when eaten uncooked, the endive has a delicious flavor. The tightly bunched leaves are wonderful for raw salads, but the wider leaves are equally good for wrapping or holding grilled or cooked food, giving each mouthful a distinct flavor.
There are several ways to lessen the bitterness of endive:
1) Cut off the ends of the stems where the leaves begin. These tend to be very bitter.
2) Wash the leaves thoroughly under running tap water. Make sure to rinse both sides of the leaf.
3) Sprinkle the leaves with salt. Salt helps draw moisture out of the plant cells which causes the bitterness to dissipate.
4) Try soaking the washed leaves in ice water for about 15 minutes. After this time, drain the leaves and pat dry with paper towels.
5) Place the leaves between two layers of plastic wrap and roll back and forth vigorously. Repeat this step at least three times.
The raw endive leaves are crisp and slightly bitter, but you can easily boil them to soften the flavor. In fact, when cooked, it can become a little sweet. Simply trim and clip the outer layer of the endive to lessen the bitterness. Toss the leaves with olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper and roast at 400 degrees until tender. Drizzle with sherry vinegar to further conceal the harshness and turn it into a great side dish or buffet item.
When choosing an endive variety, look for one that is mild tasting. If you want something more assertively flavored, choose different lettuce such as romaine or arugula. You may even consider adding other greens such as spinach or kale.
Endives have a very crisp texture that works nicely in salads. Some people choose to cut the endive into thin pieces to include with their salads. Others just substitute endive leaves for the crackers and serve with chicken salad, tuna salad, or their favorite vegetable dips.
Another use for endive is as an appetizer. For example, try serving sliced endive topped with cheese and served alongside breadsticks. Or slice the endive lengthwise and fill with cream cheese spread and sprinkle with paprika.
Place the endive leaves in two layers in circular shapes to reduce the bitterness while enjoying them as wonderful appetizers. Serve with grapes and walnuts on top. They have a nice blend of sweet and tart with a small spray of vinaigrette on top.
A sandwich made with endive instead of white bread will give you a crunchy contrast to the soft filling. Use whole-wheat bread if desired. Spread thinly sliced tomato slices onto half of the bread. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and then add some fresh basil leaves.
Add another piece of bread and press down firmly so that all the ingredients stick together. Slice diagonally across the middle and enjoy!
In conclusion, I would like to say that endive has many uses besides being used as a garnish. The most common way to eat endive is by using it as a base ingredient in your own recipes. This article should help you get started making delicious dishes from the endive and also help you with your food curiosities about the taste of endives.